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Francois Faton Cahen: Great Winds

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Recorded in New York in 1979, this odd collaboration of French pianist Cahen, French percussionist Michel Seguin and Czech bassist Miroslav Vitous was originally intended to launch a jazz-fusion series within the French Trema label. Given the strictly acoustic nature of this project, along with its reliance on hand percussion and its prevalence of Afro-Cuban and Middle Eastern rhythms (particularly on “Oriental Wind” and “Spirit of the Wind”), it more closely resembles a kind of seminal world-beat fusion than electric jazz-rock fusion.

Cahen, a charter member of the European fusion group Magma, is a dramatic, two-fisted player who makes full use of overdubbing to create mesmerizing latticework patterns on the piano, which is especially effective on “Alize (Trade Wind).” Vitous is also heard overdubbing throughout the project, accompanying himself on deep-toned bass while bowing with soloistic abandon over the top. His unaccompanied “Whirlwind” is a virtuosic display of bowed bass. Seguin holds the session’s groove together with percolating conga grooves.

Drummer Jack DeJohnette makes a special guest appearance on two tracks, “A Froggy Day” and “Chapel of the Wind,” neither of which make good use of his uniquely propulsive and boldly interactive qualities on the kit. But all bass students and enthusiasts should definitely check out this disc to hear what Vitous is putting down with the bow. His solo contributions are what stand out on this historic document.